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How to Protect Your Home From the #1 Home Insurance Claim in Ontario

Posted Feb 8th, 2023 in Did You Know?, General, Home Insurance, HOMEINSURANCE, In the News, Insurance Tips, Media, TENANTINSURANCE

Did you know that water damage is the number one cause of home insurance claims in Ontario? In 2022, insured damage in Canada caused by severe weather events hit a record high of $3.1 billion, making it the third worst year for insured losses in the country’s history.

Water damage can happen at any time of the year and can be caused by a variety of factors including heavy rainfall, snow melt, and burst pipes. It is extremely important to stay educated, safeguard your home against all types of water damage, and to speak with your Ontario insurance broker to ensure you are adequately covered under your home insurance policy.

Types of Damage Caused by Water

The main types of damages caused by water that result in water-related losses include water damage, flooding, and sewer backup. 

Water Damage

Water damage refers to the sudden or accidental flow of water into a property, and is caused by events such as a pipe bursting, an overflowing bathtub, or a windstorm destroying your roof, causing rain or snow to enter. 

Flooding/Overland Water

Flooding occurs when a heavy amount of water overflows onto dry land and enters a home. Common causes of an overland flood include rainfall, dam failure, tidal flooding, and runoff from melting snow. 

Sewer Backup

Sewer backup occurs when sewer systems experience an influx of high volumes of water from snowmelt or rainstorms. Wastewater or freshwater then backs up into a home through drains. Some homeowners can be confused by the difference between sewer backup coverage versus overland coverage, your Ontario insurance broker can help to clarify this and address it for you in your home insurance policy.

What Kind of Water Damages are Covered?

The main types of damages caused by water that result in water-related losses include water damage, flooding, and sewer backup. 

Types of Home Insurance Policies


A comprehensive home insurance policy is the most inclusive type of policy. It covers the dwelling and all its content from All Risks. All Risks covers “All Perils” except perils specifically excluded in your policy wordings. Your insurance broker will be able to clarify for you what is excluded.

If you live in a mobile home, condo, or apartment building you will need customized insurance for your property type. If you have a storage unit in the basement of your apartment or condo, these items may be extra vulnerable to water damage, so make sure to speak to your insurance brokers about additional, optional coverages.


A broad policy is considered to be a mid-priced compromise between comprehensive and basic policies. This policy provides comprehensive coverage on larger items, such as your dwelling, as well as named perils coverage on the contents.

Basic or Named Perils

A basic policy covers only those perils that are specifically stated in the home insurance policy, such as vehicle impact, explosion, fire, lightning, smoke, or theft. Under this type of policy, flooding or water damage caused by floodwater, earth movements, and damage from frozen indoor plumbing are considered uninsured perils, meaning they will not be covered. This policy may be more affordable than comprehensive, but you carry the financial risk of some losses yourself. This type of policy is typically best suited for cottages or seasonal homes.

Your Ontario insurance broker will be able to review your needs and risks with you and help you determine what type of coverage would be best suited for you. They may also recommend some additional, optional water coverages.  

Optional Water Coverages to Consider

Although some policies do cover accidental water damage from things like fridge or dishwasher leaks, there are certain additional, optional water coverages available for purchase, such as overland and sewer backup that can be added to your home insurance policy for increased coverage and protection.

Sewer Backup Coverage

When a sudden and unexpected buildup of pressure causes water to flow backward through pipes and out through drains in a home, it is known as a sewer backup. This type of insurance coverage protects homeowners from the damage caused by this occurrence, including water damage to the dwelling and its contents, as well as the costs of cleanup and repair. This can include damage caused by water escaping from a sewer, sump pump, or septic tank, and emerging through drains in bathrooms, kitchens, or other areas of the home. This coverage is typically an optional add-on to a standard homeowners insurance policy, and not all insurance companies offer it. Speak with your Ontario insurance broker for additional details and information.

Ground Water

Groundwater coverage can help protect against damage caused by groundwater entering your dwelling or unit through basement walls, the foundation, or floors.

Flood Coverage/Overland Coverage

Flood coverage offers protection against harm caused by an overflow of an inland body of water such as rivers, lakes, or streams, as well as water that seeps into your home or other structures through basement walls or floors in the event of a flood on the insured property.

Many insurance brokers will recommend that if have sewer backup coverage, you also have flood/overland coverage, as many water damage claims are a combination of both.

Water and Sewer Lines/Buried Utility Lines

Water and sewer lines/buried utility lines coverage offers protection in case you experience a break, leak, rupture, tear, or collapse of a water and/ or sewer line and need to repair it. It can also help protect against the cost of excavating and repairing a variety of underground utility wiring and piping, which can be costly.

It is important to note that you can speak with your insurance brokers about choosing limits on some of the coverages.

Additional Ways to Protect Your Home From Water Damage

Properly maintaining your home and your most valuable possessions within it are some of the best ways to prevent water damage and the possible resulting home insurance claims. This list of maintenance tips and best practices can help to protect your home from water-related damage and help to avoid a home insurance claim. If you do experience water damage, and it is due to a lack of routine maintenance, your home insurance claim may be denied.

Prevent Basement Water Seepage

  • Reseal your basement to ensure you don’t have cracks in the foundation or floor slabs
  • Make sure water drains away from your home to keep the foundation walls of your home intact

Maintain Indoor Plumbing

  • Inspect appliances hoses and faucets leading to water heaters, dishwashers, washing machines, and refrigerator icemakers
  • Inspect showers and tubs to make sure they are watertight
  • Shut off the main water supply when you’re away from home for an extended period
  • Know the location of the main water shut-off valve in your home
  • Check plumbing and heating pipes for cracks and leaks, and have any necessary repairs made immediately.

Maintain Heat During the Winter

If you fail to maintain the heat in your home in the winter months, and that leads to pipes freezing and bursting, your home insurance claim may be denied. If you are going to be away from your home during the winter months, it is vital to have someone come check that the heat is being maintained. It is important to check with your insurance broker regarding how often the heat must be checked.

Repair and Protect Your Home’s Exterior

  • Caulk and seal windows to avoid water seepage
  • Inspect your roof for missing, damaged, or aging shingles
  • Check your downspouts and rain gutters and remove any debris that may have accumulated
  • Check sprinklers and irrigation systems to be sure they are not creating water damage to the walls and foundation of your home
  • Install gutter guards to prevent gutter clogs
  • In the winter, make sure any exterior piping from faucets is drained and closed off so that they don’t freeze and burst.
  • Improve the grading around your home so that the water will grade away from your home and you don’t get any water pooling up in water wells

Protect Your Possessions

  • Never store valuables or memorabilia where there is a risk of destruction from water
  • Keep belongings stored on shelving and off the floor in basements
  • Keep an up-to-date home inventory list to save time and stress in the event of loss from water damage
  • Install a backwater valve and sump pump. Make sure to let your insurance broker know if you have these installed, as you may be eligible for a discount on your home insurance.

What To Do If Water Damage Occurs

If water damage does occur to your home, you will need to begin the claim process with your Ontario insurance broker as soon as possible. It is important to call them and provide them with as much detailed information as you can. List all damaged and destroyed items, and if possible, gather proofs of purchase, photos, receipts, and warranties. Providing photos of the damage incurred and keeping damaged items (unless they pose a health hazard), could be useful in the claims process. Finally, keep all receipts related to cleaning up the damages and any living expenses if you’ve been displaced. Your insurance broker will outline which expenses you may be entitled to and for what period of time. Before waiting until a disaster occurs, speak to your Ontario insurance broker about water damage coverage on your home insurance policy.

Before it’s too late, contact your Ontario insurance broker to review your current home insurance policy and discuss adding additional water damage coverages, so you can have peace of mind, knowing your home is adequately protected.

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Disclaimer: The information provided on this blog is for educational purposes only and is not intended as professional insurance advice. The coverage, terms, and conditions of each insurance policy are unique and subject to individual circumstances. The information provided does not guarantee the availability or suitability of any insurance policy for your specific needs. You should not rely on the information in the blog as an alternative to professional advice from your insurance broker or insurance company. If you have any specific questions about any insurance matter, please consult a licensed insurance broker for personalized advice and guidance.

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